Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Odyssey by Homer (3.5/5)

Goodreads says: The Odyssey is literature's grandest evocation of everyman's journey through life. In the myths and legends that are retold here [...]. This is an Odyssey to delight both the classicist and the general reader, and to captivate a new generation of Homer's students.

I say: Since I bought The Iliad and The Odyssey as part of a set that was translated by E V Rieu, I’m not going to offer any more commentary on the translation as that would be a tad redundant. Whatever I wrote in the review of The Iliad stands true for The Odyssey – although there was slightly less hyperbole.

Or maybe I just got used to it.

Either way, what happens in The Odyssey is that after fighting for 9 years at Troy, Odysseus spends 10 years trying to get back to his home Ithaca. A lot of random, incredible and downright silly things happen to him on his way. Meanwhile, at home, there is a horde of gentlemen who are courting his wife, and in the process spend their days there eating his food and drinking his wine. After years of this, his son Telemachus, growing tired of this, sets out in search of his father.

And that’s pretty much all I can say without giving anything away.

In short, I still hate Zeus and grew to despise Odysseus in this book. He is constantly referred to as ‘Odysseus of the nimble wits,’ but really he is quite foolish and ruthless; Athena has to constantly rein him in and tell him what to do. The only time he thought of something intelligent on his own was when he and his men were locked in the cave with the Cyclops.

And he lies all the time – even when he doesn’t have to.

He is surprisingly vile in this; and I liked him in The Iliad.

His wife Penelope annoyed me as well, and it’s amazing that Telemachus grew up to have as much sense as he did, considering who his parents were.

I could go on a rant for days about these people, but won’t – I’ll just get myself worked up for no reason.

Essentially, I liked The Odyssey because I learned a lot of interesting things about Greek mythology. Other than that it was just a mess of random folly.

And crying.

They were constantly crying.

*The edition I have is a really nice blue clothbound one with a leather spine, so I don't have a picture of it. Instead I've added the painting Ulysses at the court of Alcinous by Francesco Hayes. Odysseus is the one weeping.


  1. Loved your review. Odysseus irritated me too in this one. Like you I liked all the Greek myth that went with it but in the end I preferred the Iliad.

  2. Oh, I'm so glad that I'm not the only one that found him annoying. Other reviewers seem to love everything about this - or hate it. I also preferred the Iliad.